1 - How Bills defensive play-caller is impacting Vikings' game plan
Head coach Sean McDermott took over defensive play-calling duties midway through Buffalo's Week 2 contest with the Los Angeles Chargers. The change seemingly sparked the Bills' defensive unit, as they limited the Chargers to just 65 offensive yards throughout the rest of the game.
McDermott will collaborate on play-calling duties with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in Buffalo's Week 3 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. While Minnesota offensive coordinator John DeFilippo doesn't foresee the Bills' play-calling situation resulting in massive changes for Buffalo's defense, he does feel as though the uncertainty presents a challenge for the Vikings.
"I just put myself in that situation," DeFilippo said. "Believe me, I'm not speaking for Coach McDermott at all, I have a ton of respect for Coach and the Bills and all that. I'm putting myself in that situation. There's only so much wholesale change you can do in one week. That doesn't mean that they're pressure numbers are going to change, instead of pressuring 14 percent of the time on third down, it may go up to 25 percent."
DeFilippo has a deep respect for McDermott, and he expects Buffalo's defense to come out strong on Sunday.
"Obviously we're expecting their best shot, we're ready for anything," DeFilippo said. "I talked to the players about just following our base rules in protection, be ready for the unscouted look. I'm sure they're going to have something for us that we haven't seen, there's no doubt. Coach McDermott has got the reputation he has for a reason, and he's a darn good coach. Hopefully we'll be ready for whatever he throws at us."
2 - Bills defenders talk about stopping Vikings' offense
The Minnesota Vikings' offense has been electric thus far in the 2018 season.
Through two games, the Vikings have scored 53 points. Kirk Cousins has already completed 55 passes for 669 yards. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been dynamic in the passing game. Although he's out for Minnesota's Week 3 matchup with the Bills, running back Dalvin Cook has been solid, as well.
Containing Minnesota's offense will be critical to the Bills' success on Sunday. Buffalo's defenders feel as though playing as a complete unit will allow them to limit the Vikings' progress on offense.
"You got Thielen, you got Diggs, they have some weapons," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "They have [Latavius] Murray, as well. Obviously [Kyle] Rudolph. They have some weapons out there, but at the end of the day, we have guys as well that can cover them. We have to get after the pass and not giving them a lot of time to be able to throw some of the shots that [Cousins] likes to get down the field to some of those guys. Just getting after them, winning on first and second downs. It's the same formula. Just playing complementary football to set ourselves up to win."
"Kirk's a tremendous quarterback," defensive end Jerry Hughes added. "So for us, it's just about starting fast. Coming out there from the jump of the quarter to whenever we get out there on the field as a defense. Just starting fast, going out there, trying to give our offense the ball, put them in positions to be successful."
3 - Harrison Phillips is PFF's second-best rookie DT
Sean McDermott has kept eight defensive linemen active in both of Buffalo's games thus far this season. This is because he often rotates linemen during games, keeping fresh defenders on the field in an effort to keep the unit's energy high.
Harrison Phillips has seen a fair amount of playing time this season in a rotational role. The defensive tackle, whom the Bills selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, has played well, recording seven tackles in addition to helping in run defense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Phillips has been one of the NFL's best rookie defenders this season. The former Stanford standout has an overall grade of 75.1 through two games, the second highest grade among all rookie interior defenders.
Detroit Lions' fourth-round pick Da'Shawn Hand is the only rookie who has a higher grade than Phillips.
Though Phillips hasn't recorded any sacks or tackles for loss yet, he is making an impact in the run game. He's already made one run stuff.
The Bills' interior defense as a whole has been solid against the run. According to Football Outsiders, the Bills have stuffed 29 percent of their opponents rushing attempts.